Misdiagnosis is more than a mistake. It’s a decision that can have life-altering or even fatal consequences. Because it is such a serious issue, one might assume it is a problem doctors are desperate to avoid. That may be the case, but the fact remains that around 1 in 20 patients are misdiagnosed.
Obviously, failing to correctly diagnose a patient can delay the person’s recovery and may even subject them to treatments that are harmful. That’s why misdiagnosis is a major subcategory of medical malpractice. When this situation happens, the patient is entitled to compensation for their wasted time, money, and suffering.
While we wish this were not a common issue, the truth is that millions of Americans are misdiagnosed every year. As a result, you might wonder about some of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases. Keep reading and we will cover a few.
Over a million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. But not every diagnosis of the disease is correct. According to some studies, the rate of misdiagnosis may even be as high as 28%.
Usually, a cancer misdiagnosis occurs because of a mistake made in the pathology lab. A misread tissue sample could have disastrous effects for the patient.
2. Pulmonary Embolism
Pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots in the lungs, present with shortness of breath, sweating, chest pain, and even anxiety. And yet, doctors often miss these telltale signs.
Unfortunately, a misdiagnosed pulmonary embolism will often result in death. The damage from this disease greatly increases over time, so missing an early window could have catastrophic effects.
3. Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is often referred to as “The Great Imitator.” That’s because its symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions, like Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and more.
Lyme disease is caused by a tick bite and is sometimes accompanied by a bulls-eye rash. But if that rash is not present, misdiagnosis is more likely to occur. In fact, fewer than a quarter of Lyme disease sufferers report being correctly diagnosed at the onset of the disease.
4. Heart Attacks
Since heart disease is the leading cause of death for people in the United States, you would think most doctors would know a heart attack when they see one. And yet, this condition remains one of the most misdiagnosed diseases.
Unfortunately, if a heart attack does not receive proper treatment within the first hour, the risk of scarring and muscle death increases dramatically. So a failure to diagnose this condition the first time will sometimes result in death.
Unfortunately, tens of thousands of people are misdiagnosed after having a stroke. These patients are often told they’re suffering from vertigo or migraines. This is even more likely to happen when a patient is a minority, a woman, or a person under the age of 45.
What to Do If You Have Been Misdiagnosed
When you make a visit to the doctor, you expect to be properly cared for. So learning that you have been misdiagnosed by a professional you trusted can leave you feeling vulnerable and unsure of how to proceed.
If you believe you have been misdiagnosed, you should move quickly to get a second opinion from another doctor. Once the misdiagnosis is confirmed, you should speak to a lawyer about a potential medical malpractice lawsuit. Pursuing legal action can help you get compensation for injuries, trauma, or medical bills you wouldn’t otherwise have.